A growing trend of Coronavirus-related fraud has seen reports of scams increase by 400% within the space of a month, according to the latest figures from Action Fraud.
Recently the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau reproted the new COVID-19 scam trend and updated figures show that since February 1 there has veen 105 reports to Action Fraud. Total losses have reached nearly £970,000.
The first Covid-19 related scam report was made on February 9, with an additional 20 reports being received that month.
We have already seen fraudsters using the Covid-19 pandemic to scam people looking to buy medical supplies online”
Between March 1-13, a further 46 reports to Action Fraud came in – while 38 reports arrived in the four days from March 14-18.
The majority of reports were of online shopping scams where people ordered protective face masks, hand sanitiser, and other products that have never arrived.
Action Fraud, which has a reporting hotline, has received more than 200 reports of coronavirus-themed phishing emails, which trick recipients into opening malicious attachments allowing the theft of their personal information or financial details.
Other frauds being reported include ticket fraud, romance fraud, charity fraud and lender loan fraud.
One victim reported losing over £15,000 when they bought face masks that were never delivered.
An Action Fraud spokesperson said: “We have also received multiple reports about coronavirus-themed phishing emails attempting to trick people into opening malicious attachments or revealing sensitive personal and financial information.
“One common tactic used by fraudsters is to contact potential victims over email purporting to be from research organisation’s affiliated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Graeme Biggar, director general of the National Economic Crime Centre, said: “We have already seen fraudsters using the Covid-19 pandemic to scam people looking to buy medical supplies online, sending emails offering fake medical support and targeting people who may be vulnerable or increasingly isolated at home.
“These frauds try to lure you in with offers that look too good to be true, such as high return investments and ‘healthcare opportunities’, or appeals for you to support those who are ill or bogus charities.
“The advice is simple, think very carefully before you hand over your money, and don’t give out your personal details unless you are sure who you are dealing with.”
The Action Fraud figures are released after industry body UK Finance and the National Cyber Security Centre both warned about the risk posed by criminals seeking to exploit the coronavirus pandemic.
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